From 18 to 22 May the 28th meeting of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group took place in London and Coventry. A summary of the event follows:
1. Main participants
(1) Japanese side
Thirteen participants, including Mr Seiji Maehara (former foreign minister and Member of the House of Representatives), Mr Tomoji Nakatani (Member of the House of Representatives), Mr Naoki Tanaka (President, Centre for International Public Policy Studies), Mr Hitoshi Tanaka (Senior Fellow, the Japan Centre for International Exchange, and Chairman of the Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute), and Dr Taizo Yakushij (Research Director, Institute for International Policy Studies, and Professor at Keio University).
(2) British side
Twenty participants, including Lord Howard (UK Co-Chairman, Member of the House of Lords and former leader of the Conservative Party), Sir Richard Needham (former Minister for Trade) and Mr Bill Emmott (former Editor of The Economist).
2. Summary of the meeting
(1) Lord Howard was appointed UK Co-Chairman, effective from this gathering onwards. As part of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group meeting, the Japanese delegation made a courtesy call on Prime Minister David Cameron on 19 May, during which they discussed, among other topics, the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan’s response to the nuclear accident, the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, and bilateral trade. In the evening, Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell hosted a reception at the FCO.
(2) On 20 May, the UK side hosted a breakfast meeting, with Mr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Mr Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, in attendance.
(3) From the afternoon of 20 May, the proceedings moved to the University of Warwick in Coventry. The participants conducted lively discussions on the following six themes: ‘Latest developments in UK and Europe’, ‘Developments in Japan and East Asia’, ‘The Japanese tsunami and its consequences’, ‘How well are the West and Japan responding to the new global political and security challenges?’ , ‘Challenges for British and Japanese economic policy in coping with fiscal pressures and competition from the emerging economies’, and ‘Prospects for UK-Japan relations and progress in developing bilateral collaboration’.
(1) The UK-Japan 21st Century Group came about from an agreement between former prime ministers Nakasone and Thatcher in 1984. It was launched the following year. Meetings take place once a year, alternately in Japan and the UK. The aim of this forum is to discuss ways of broadening the bilateral relationship through free exchanges of views between prominent people from various sectors and to help foster mutual understanding, intellectual exchange and closer ties based on long-term cooperation.
(2) Former leader of the Conservative Party Lord Howard is the British Co-Chair. The Japanese Co-Chair is Mr Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Member of the House of Representatives.